'Is it too much to ask for pubs to close just two days of the year?' - pubs in one Irish town defiantly not opening today

Publicans from Newmarket Co Cork who will remain closed as usual on Good Friday. From Left John O'Connell, High Street Bar, Julia McAuliffe, Scullys Pub, Michael Scanlan and John Scanlan, Scanlan's Bar, Newmarket. Photograph by Eamon Ward

Ralph Riegel

ONE Irish town has defiantly decided to stick with a 91 year old tradition where all pubs will remain closed on Good Friday.

Newmarket in north Cork will see all six of its pubs remain closed today - with locals and publicans alike staunchly supporting the decision.

The Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1927 brought in the pub closure rules for Good Friday but Irish pubs are now able to trade as normal - a move introduced given the large number of tourists opting for Easter breaks in Ireland.

However, Newmarket publicans decided to stick with a tradition they felt benefited pub owners as much as their customers.

John O'Connell of The High Street Bar said locals didn't see any reason to abandon the tradition of pubs remaining closed.

"We wanted to keep up the tradition, it's as simple as that," he said.

"I have been here for 40 years and we never gave out a drink on Good Friday."

"Why should we change? Maybe it is okay for cities and the like where there are a lot of tourists. But around here it won't make any difference."

Margaret Clarke owner of The Rock Bar said Newmarket was always a proudly independent place.

"It was nice to keep up the tradition - it also gives us a day off," she said.

"We get to spend the day at home with your family or just catch up on things you can't get to do during the week."

T.D Cronin, owner of The Central Bar, said it was good that all pubs in Newmarket decided to make a united stand.

"They (publicans) needed a bit of time off, I suppose. It is a big change to be able to open on Good Friday but I went along with the rest of the pubs in town," he said.

John Scanlon of Scanlon’s Bar said a chat amongst local publicans led to the decision to stick with the closure.

Pubs are legally allowed to open for the first time since 1927 on Good Friday (stock photo)

“We have only two days off each year, Christmas Day and Good Friday and we want to hold onto that. It is a day publicans want to spend with their families," he said.

Newmarket has around 1,000 residents and ranks as a typically rural Irish town.

Joan Hourigan has run Hourigan’s Bar for a half century and wholeheartedly backed the decision to remain closed.

"It's a tradition I didn't want to give up," she said.

Local man Mike Sullivan said he felt it was a good decision.

"Personally, I am delighted with the decision - for God's sake, is it too much to ask for pubs to close just two days of the year," he said.

"Good Friday is traditionally an important day - there are a lot of people around here who still stick to the old traditions of fasting and respecting the significance of the day it is."

"I'm delighted with the publicans here that they decided to stand up for tradition - not all change is good, you know."